To call a space a spade, a good waterproof jacket is expensive but it’s worth every penny. In this post, I’ll tell you more about all the waterproof jackets that I once owned and why now I wouldn’t trade my Patagonia waterproof jacket for anything.
Let’s start off with the basics and learn what makes a waterproof jacket, well, waterproof.
What Are Hard-Shell Waterproof Jackets?
The key to having a reliable waterproof jacket is the material it’s made of. Ideally, you’d want to buy a hard-shell waterproof jacket as it has a higher impermeability level compared to soft-shell jackets.
Hard shell jackets are made of a thicker, more durable, and rigid material. That’s what makes them impermeable. However, this comes at a cost.
Indeed, they are durable, waterproof, and windproof but they’re also less breathable than soft shell jackets.
The water-repellent fabric they are made of also acts as a barrier against the wind.
You can’t have a good waterproof jacket that’s both super breathable and impermeable. You just can’t have it both ways.
The more breathable your jacket is, the more it lets in rain. So keep this detail in mind when making your purchasing decision.
Why Are Rain Jackets So Expensive?
The price tag of a waterproof jacket reflects all the elements that went into the manufacturing process as well as the logistics costs which may include but are not limited to:
- The Gore-Tex trademark
- The cost of labor
- The design costs
- The patterns and raw material costs
- The marketing costs and the markup of both the original manufacturer and the brick-and-mortar stores selling these jackets, and more.
Even if a particular outdoor clothing company buys 15,000 jackets at $40 per jacket, add to that its markup. The more middlemen are involved, the more expensive that rain jacket becomes.
If the outdoor clothing company sells the rain jackets to your local ski shop, add $50 or even a few hundred dollars to the final price tag.
The price you’re going to pay for that jacket reflects the cost of the manufacturing process, as well as the markup of the outdoor clothing company and that of your local ski shop.
You get the point.
What Is the Biggest Problem With Waterproof Jackets?
The biggest problem with waterproof jackets is that over time, their waterproofing capabilities can diminish.
The outer waterproof layer of jackets is typically treated with a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating, which helps water bead off the surface.
However, this coating can wear off with use, exposure to dirt, and regular washing. As a result, the jacket may start to absorb water rather than repel it.
Another common problem with waterproof jackets is that they can restrict breathability and may not effectively manage sweat and moisture from the inside.
MyLifeOutdoors has a handy video on this topic.
Who Makes the Best Waterproof Jackets?
There are several reputable brands known for producing high-quality waterproof jackets. Arc’teryx, The North Face, Patagonia, Columbia, and Outdoor Research are some of the brands that make the best waterproof jackets on the market.
Arc’teryx is renowned for their technical outdoor gear, including waterproof jackets. They use advanced materials and construction techniques to create durable and highly waterproof jackets.
The North Face
The North Face is a popular brand that offers a wide range of outdoor apparel, including waterproof jackets. They have a variety of options suitable for different activities and weather conditions.
Patagonia is known for their commitment to environmental sustainability and producing high-quality outdoor gear. They offer waterproof jackets made from durable and eco-friendly materials.
Columbia is a well-established brand that offers a range of waterproof jackets for various outdoor activities. They have options suitable for hiking, skiing, and everyday wear.
Outdoor Research specializes in outdoor gear and is recognized for their reliable and functional waterproof jackets. They focus on creating gear that performs well in challenging weather conditions.
Why I Love My Patagonia Rain Jacket
I’ve owned my Triolet waterproof jacket for three years now and I wouldn’t trade it for any other rain jacket. It offers me the waterproof protection level that I need thanks to its three-layer Gore-Tex fabric.
It has never let me down.
I once had to spend 30 minutes in heavy rain and this jacket kept me dry. Another time, I hiked through the rain for 2 hours and my T-shirt was still dry when I reached the cabin.
Honestly speaking, this is my first expensive waterproof jacket but I don’t regret buying it. It has successfully served its purpose.
Prior to purchasing this jacket, I used to get raincoats in the $100-150 range. However, almost all of them let me down after a few months of usage and I had to get a new one.
Compared to the $100-150 jackets, the cost per wear for my Patagonia jacket is lower which is great. So, an expensive item can actually be cheaper if we look at the cost per wear.
I hope this post answered your questions. Let me know if I missed anything.
Last updated in July 2023 to add additional information.